TGR Live Back to Host Genesis Open at Riviera
Education a Big Winner
February 8, 2018
TGR Live, a Tiger Woods venture, will host and manage the PGA Tour's Genesis Open for the second consecutive year at the famed Riviera Country Club in beautiful Pacific Palisades, Los Angeles from February 12-18. And the fans will get an added bonus: Tiger is healthy and will be playing at Riviera for the first time since 2006 when the event was known as the Nissan Open.
Last week TGR Live tournament director and vice president of championships Mike Antolini presented the Genesis Open media day conference that included 2017 tournament winner Dustin Johnson, currently the world's top-ranked golfer. Four of the top five, 11 of the top 20 and nearly 30 of the top 50 players in the world have committed to playing at Riviera this year.
"Riviera is, I think might be the best course that we play on Tour all year," said Dustin Johnson. "Maybe there are a couple courses that we play during the majors, but this is one of my favorite courses to play. I love coming here and all the guys that I talk to... they all like it, too."
Also making statements to the large media crowd in the club's Grand Ballroom were Michael Yamaki, Riviera Country Club corporate officer and Erwin Raphael, general manager of Genesis Motor America. Johnson then chatted with Antolini and took questions from the media to wrap up the proceedings. As with all TGR Live events, a major focus was on education.
"We're excited to have the sport's global spotlight again shining down on us in just two weeks," opened Antolini. "Education is a major pillar of the Genesis Open and we're proud to benefit local charities including the Tiger Woods Foundation, which is headquartered in southern California.
Yamaki reiterated the sentiments: "So Genesis has been a great partner for us, they really want to get to the youth programs there, so we're trying to get the message out because we're doing new programs to get more young people out here and cultivate them."
Genesis Motor America began sponsoring the tournament last year in conjunction with TGR Live taking over the reigns. Riviera Country Club initially hosted the Los Angeles Open in 1929. "So partnering with the Tiger Woods Foundation Live, we endeavor to continue to bring this approach to the Genesis Open and provide the elevated experience here at the Tour," said Raphael.
"The Genesis Open is committed to supporting the arts and education for underprivileged youth as well. Last year here at the Genesis Open we announced our first corporate social responsibility grant to the J. Paul Getty Museum to create a groundbreaking arts achievement program specifically for underserved high school students right here in Los Angeles."
Johnson and Antolini's question and answer session with a touch from the warm morning air set a welcome and relaxed tone. "Last year I was playing really well leading into the event... I had a really big lead going into the last nine holes. So it was a lot of fun and kind of put it on cruise control the last nine holes just to get it in the house," said Johnson.
"... to get a win here at the Genesis Open was very special, obviously to get myself to No. 1 in the world was huge for me... that kind of catapulted into the next two wins, I won at WGC Mexico and WGC Match Play."
He was asked about becoming No.1 in the world with last year's win and holding that position. "Well, I think it's very important. I really like being No. 1 in the world. (Laughs from the audience) For me, it's a huge motivator to continue to do what I'm doing, continue to work hard in the gym, to continue to work hard on my golf game."
Antolini oversees three PGA Tour events for TGR Live: the management of the Genesis Open, The National and the World Hero Challenge. TGR Live runs five core events annually and sometimes six in certain years including three signature events.
"Running and managing the Genesis Open is a great privilege for us. There is so much history behind this event on the PGA Tour here in Los Angeles at Riviera," said Antolini.
"It's really a great opportunity for us to be able to run this tournament and continue to make an impact in Southern California. It's where our foundation began over 20 years ago. It's where Tiger grew up. It's where Tiger inside the ropes got his first start in 1992 with a sponsor's exemption here at Riviera."
"When you look at all of those factors it really makes for a powerful combination and something that we're really able to use as a highlight of our year. It's the first event we run."
TGR Live uses events to further its mission at the Tiger Woods Foundation, which is to provide educational opportunities to under-served youth. There are TGR Learning Labs in Southern California and on the East Coast in the Philadelphia, Washington D.C. and Florida areas.
An important function of the Tiger Woods Foundation is the Earl Woods Scholar program, which is nationwide. It provides to high-performing, yet underprivileged, graduating high school seniors the ability to become a part of the program.
"At the Tiger Woods Foundation we provide students in need the right resources to insure lifelong success in school, work and their communities," stated Antolini. "That's really what we're about."
"To date we've touched hundreds of thousands of kids. And I know we have aspirations to reach millions more. These events allow that vision and that mission to really flourish."
"So TGR Live and the Tiger Woods Foundation are joined at the hip. When we execute an event like the Genesis Open, Tiger Jam or the Tiger Woods Invitational we're able to do it with the kids and education being the big winners."
"Last year had a great impact on our organization. It was really important for us to host such a historic event at Riviera like the Genesis Open in Southern California for our staff, for our constituents, for all of our supporters and our entire network."
"There's a tremendous amount of excitement when Tiger Woods plays... it's unlike anything else in the sport of golf. It's great to have him back and teeing up as the host of the Genesis Open."